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John Passant

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October 2009



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Keep Howard’s hands off rugby league

I was going to write ‘Keep Howard’s hands off my game’ as the headline.  But rugby league hasn’t been my game for decades. 

This is not because I have rejected it.  I have been a Dragons supporter since I was two years old  and 54 years later still am one. 

It is because the game has been stolen from me, and the millions of others who play or follow it. The game is about money for big business now, not ordinary workers. It’s all about profit, not people.

The commodification of sport over the last forty years has mirrored the decline in profit rates as the long post war boom ended. 

The new colonialists – in Australia people like Kerry Packer in cricket –  searched within existing society for new areas from which to extract profit.

While entertainment adds no extra value, Packer and others got in  first and diverted profit to themselves at the expense of other industries. 

Much of this commodification of sport was also linked to television, so that the profit comes not from attendance at the games but from advertising during the telecast.  

Rugby League in Australia is a minority sport.  It dominates in Queensland and New South Wales, although Australian Rules, Soccer and Rugby Union are serious competitors at varying times and to varying degrees to its dominance.

In the mid-1990s another media mogul – Rupert Murdoch – tried to do a Packer to Rugby League in Australia. The game split into two competitions. 

Neither was tenable in the long term and the two sides – News Ltd and the Australian Rugby League backed by Packer- formed an alliance, with TV rights shared between Packer’s channel 9 and Murdoch’s part-owned Fox Sport (but more Packer than News).

The relationship is an uneasy one, and if we throw in each of the 16 clubs and the state and country leagues, the result is a messy administrative structure for the game. 

It is, to use a quote from Lenin, a Thieves’ Kitchen. This just means that all the thieves sit around the table discussing how to rob the rest of us, and thinking if and how they can rob each other.

This structure of entrenched factionalism has made decision making difficult.  So now some sections within the sport are floating the idea that former Liberal (Conservative) Prime Minister John Howard head a new administrative body to run rugby league.

Let me get this right.  The biggest factional player in the Liberal Party over the last 35 years is being appointed to .. overcame factionalism in rugby league.

I am not  a Howard-hater. He at least is honest about his ruling class politics, unlike Labor.

In power he was of course deceitful, underhand, mendacious, mean-spirited, racist and completely untrustworthy.  But we knew that. 

But to put this arch apologist for capital in charge of the working class game (or what was a working class game) is a travesty. 

For a start Howard’s treatment of aboriginal people when he was a Prime Minister was a disgrace. With him in charge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders might just decide Rugby League is not the game for them.

If Rugby League needs a new group to administer it – like a Napoleon managing capitalism in the interests of capital, not particular capitalists – then let it come from the players and supporters, not the ruling elite. And let it be democratic, not dictatorial.

That won’t happen and instead we could end up with the most divisive politician in Australia in years running our game in the interests of the bosses, not us.

His Workchoices laws were an attack on ordinary working people for the ruling class.  His management of rugby league will be the same – for the big businesses that run the sport, not the supporters or players.

Don’t let John Howard workchoice rugby league. Let’s organise now to stop him destroying our game.



Comment from elephantandrat
Time October 8, 2009 at 5:42 pm

John Howard in charge of any aspect of any sport leaves me feeling sick in the stomach. Is there an island somewhere we can make him Governor of?

Comment from John
Time October 8, 2009 at 7:35 pm


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